Strengthening your back is key to avoiding lower back pain, but knowing where to start or what exercises are best can be hard.
Most people think if they have a weak back, they just have to live with it. This isn't true! You can do simple exercises at home to help strengthen your back and ease your pain.
We've put together a list of the best back strengthening exercises for you. These exercises are easy to follow and will help you get stronger and more flexible.
Before we jump to exercises, let's just run through some back pain causes and common remedies.
What Caused My Back Pain?
Lower back pain is extremely common, affecting millions worldwide. You'll hear every other person complaining of backache! It is estimated that up to 80% of adults will experience some form of lower back pain at some point in their lives.
You may ask, why? Why has this issue become so rampant, so widespread?
Well, it's no mystery once you start connecting the dots. Sedentary lifestyle, overuse of computers and gadgets lead to posture issues, arthritis, and bone health issues in general; lower back pain shouldn’t be a surprise.
The fact is there are many different causes of lower back pain, and different types too. Some of the most common include poor posture, spending too much time sitting down, osteoarthritis, strain or sprains, overuse injuries, osteoporosis, and trauma, herniated discs, etc.
Osteoporosis mostly manifests itself in the knees and adversely affects the lower back as well. It just misses the same level of attention in this area.
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes the loss of bone density, making bones more fragile and susceptible to fractures. The spine is especially vulnerable to osteoporotic fractures, leading to chronic pain and disability. When you have lower back pain, you must see your doctor and get a complete diagnosis because successful treatment depends on it.
Osteoarthritis is a common condition that can cause joint pain and stiffness. The condition is caused by the breakdown of cartilage, which is the tissue that cushions the bones.
Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, but it is most commonly seen in the knees, hips, and hands. Lower back pain is another common condition that can be caused by osteoarthritis. The pain is typically worse with activity and may improve with rest. Osteoarthritis is a progressive condition that gets worse over time.
A herniated disc can be a very painful condition. The discs in your spine act as cushions between the vertebrae, and they contain a gel-like substance that helps absorb shock. However, over time, the discs can begin to degenerate, and the gel can start to leak out.
If the gel presses on the nerves in your spine, it can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in your arms or legs. In some cases, a herniated disc can also cause problems with bladder or bowel control.
So, before you start an exercise program for your lower back pain, or any remedy for that matter, getting a sound evaluation is essential. Some cases, like osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and herniated disc issues, can worsen the pain.
Related Article: Preventing Back Pain: 10 Tips to Promoting a Healthy Spine
Remedies for Relief
Lower back pain is a common issue caused by various factors, including muscle strain, poor posture, muscle weakness, and overuse injury. Fortunately, several simple remedies can help relieve pain and improve mobility.
The best thing you can do is walk regularly.
It helps stretch and strengthen the muscles in your back, improving overall support and stability. Ice and hot packs can also help reduce inflammation and pain. For acute pain, apply ice for 20 minutes every few hours; alternate between hot and cold packs for chronic pain.
Finally, rest and exercise are important for maintaining a healthy back. Too much rest can worsen the pain, so it's important to find a balance.
Regular exercise helps strengthen the muscles in your back and improve flexibility. Yoga or Pilates are great options because they focus on gentle movements and proper alignment. Back strengthening exercises keep your muscles firm and enable them to take stress and absorb shock better.
Following these simple tips can help you with debilitating lower back pain and improve your overall health.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, it may indicate nerve compression in your spine and need immediate attention:
- Pain radiating down one leg
- Numbness or weakness on both legs (or just the affected side)
- Changes within bowel function and bladder control
Lower back pain is not always a common overuse injury or a bad posture issue; the above-mentioned red flags and causes, like osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, need specialized medical care.
Disclaimer: Above-mentioned remedies are not intended for serious and complicated health conditions like osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and herniated discs.
Best Lower Back Exercises
Here are the best lower back exercises that you can include in your daily routine to strengthen your back and improve flexibility too.
1. Rack Pull
A rack pull is a strength training exercise that primarily targets the posterior chain muscles, including the hamstrings, glutes, and erector spinae muscles. It is often performed as part of a deadlift-based workout routine but can also be performed as an independent exercise.
The key benefits of rack pulls are that they build strength and muscle mass, improve joint stability and range of motion, and help prevent injury.
- Start by setting up a barbell in a power rack at about waist height to perform a rack pull.
- Grip the bar with an overhand grip, and stand with feet flat on the ground and about hip width apart.
- Keeping your lower back in its natural arch, drive your hips forward and pull the bar off the rack.
- From here, simply reverse the motion to return to the starting position.
- As you become more comfortable with the exercise, you can increase the weight or number of repetitions.
- Remember to keep good form throughout the entire range of motion to get the most out of this exercise.
2. Bent Over Row
The bent-over row is an effective exercise for building strength and muscle in the back, shoulders, and arms. It can also help improve posture and ease pain in the lower back and hips.
If you are new to weightlifting or have any existing injuries, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional or certified trainer before attempting this or any other exercise.
Sometimes, in some conditions, straining your back muscles can actually worsen the condition. So, ask your doctor before attempting back exercises.
- To do this exercise, start by standing with your feet flat and shoulder-width apart, your spine in a neutral position, and your knees bent only slightly.
- Bend the hips and lower your torso until it is parallel to the floor.
- Be sure to keep your back straight and your core engaged.
- Then, grasp the barbell with an overhand grip, keeping your hands shoulder-width apart.
- From this position, row the barbell up to your chest, squeezing your shoulder blades together as you do.
- Lower the barbell back to the starting position and repeat for reps.
3. Barbell Good Morning
The barbell good morning is an excellent way to work the posterior chain, the muscles that run along the back of the body. This exercise is often used as a warm-up for heavier lifts but can also be performed as an isolated movement.
It’s an excellent exercise for building strength and stability in the lower back and hamstrings. Additionally, it can help improve posture and alleviate back pain. As with any exercise, use proper form and start light before progressively increasing the weight.
- To properly execute a barbell good morning, start by positioning the barbell across the back of the shoulders.
- Feet flat on the ground and knees slightly bent.
- Then, bend at the hips and lower the torso until it is parallel with the floor.
- Keep your core tight throughout.
- Return to the starting position by reversing the motion.
- Be sure to keep a strong arch in the lower back throughout the entire range of motion.
4. Back Extension
The back extension is one awesome exercise for strengthening the lower back, abdominal muscles, and improving posture. It's simple, easy, and yet so effective. The back extension is a great way to prevent injuries and keep your spine healthy. It can also help relieve pain from conditions such as sciatica.
- To do the back extension, start by lying on your stomach with your legs straight behind you.
- Place your hands behind your head or underneath your chin.
- Slowly lift your chest and head off the ground, keeping your lower back pressed into the floor.
- Hold this position for a few seconds, then return to the starting position.
- You can increase the difficulty of the back extension by lifting one leg off the ground as you extend up.
5. Bird Dog
The bird dog exercise is a great way to stretch and strengthen your abdominal muscles, lower back, or erector spinae muscles.
It can help relieve lower back pain and improve your posture, while helping you improve your balance and coordination. Most importantly, the bird dog exercise is an excellent way to prevent injuries. By doing this exercise regularly, you can help keep your back healthy and strong.
- Start on your hands and knees with your back straight. Knees bent at 90 degrees.
- Raise your right arm straight out in front of you and raise the left leg straight out behind you.
- Hold for a few seconds, then lower your arm and leg.
- Repeat with left and right leg.
The Superman exercise is a great way to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles.
This exercise is especially beneficial for those who suffer from lower back pain. Strengthening the muscles in your back can help take some of the pressure off your spine, reducing pain.
In addition, strengthening your abdominal muscles can also help stabilize your spine and reduce lower back pain.
- To do the exercise, lie on your stomach with your arms extended in front of you.
- Keep your legs fully stretched and straight.
- Then, raise your upper body (arms and torso) and lower body (legs up to thighs) off the ground.
- Hold the position for a few seconds, and lower back down to the starting position.
- Repeat for a total of 10-15 repetitions.
7. Russian Kettlebell Swing
The Russian Kettlebell Swing is a great exercise for strengthening the lower back and abdominal muscles. It also helps improve flexibility and range of motion in the lower back.
It's an excellent choice for developing explosive power and improving athletic performance.
The Russian Kettlebell Swing can be performed with either one or two kettlebells.
- Stand with your feet hip width apart, and knees bent at about 15 degrees (very slight bent).
- Hold the kettlebell(s) at arm's length in front of you, then swing them back between your legs, pivoting your upper body.
- Squeeze your glutes and thrust your hips forward to swing the kettlebell(s) to shoulder height.
- Allow the momentum of the kettlebell(s) to carry them back down between your legs, then repeat the movement.
8. Glute Hamstring Raise (GHR)
The Glute Ham Raise (GHR) is a great exercise for strengthening the hamstrings and glutes. The GHR primarily targets the hamstrings and the muscles on the back of the thigh. The hamstrings are responsible for knee flexion and hip extension, so they're crucial for activities like sprinting and jumping.
Strong hamstrings can also help protect the lower back from injury.
You can do this with your hands on your hips or by clasping them behind your head. You can add weight by holding a dumbbell or plate in front of your chest to make the exercise more challenging.
- The GHR is performed by placing your feet under a padded bar and then raising your hips and your upper body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Slowly lower your hips back to the starting position.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
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9. Stability Ball Reverse Hyperextension
The stability ball reverse hyperextension is excellent for lower back pain patients. The ball provides support and stability while the user works to extend their hips and legs. This movement helps strengthen the muscles in the lower back and core, providing relief from pain and improving posture.
This exercise helps strengthen the lower back muscles and stretches the hamstrings and glutes. As a result, it can help relieve lower back pain and improve the range of motion.
- Start by lying face down on a stability ball with your hands behind your head.
- Next, slowly raise your legs and lower your back off the ball until your body forms a straight line.
- Hold this position for a few seconds before slowly lowering back to the start position.
10. Side Plank
Most people are familiar with the standard plank, but the side plank is a great variation that can offer some additional benefits. For starters, it can help relieve lower back pain.
It is because the side plank helps strengthen the muscles in the lower back and core, which can take some of the pressure off the spine.
Not only that, the side plank is great to improve balance and stability as it challenges your muscles to work together to keep your body in alignment.
- To get into position, lie on your side with your legs straight and prop yourself up on your elbow.
- Make sure that your elbow is directly under your shoulder, and try to keep your body in a straight line from head to toe.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
1. What is the fastest way to cure your lower back pain?
There's no need to suffer from lower back pain. There are actually quite a few things you can do to ease the pain and get back to your normal life.
One of the best things you can do is exercise. Exercise strengthens your back muscles and can help prevent future pain. However, if you're already in pain, you'll want to avoid exercises involving twisting or bending. Instead, try some simple stretching exercises or low-impact aerobics.
Hot and cold treatments can also be helpful for lower back pain. Alternating between hot and cold compresses can help reduce inflammation and ease the pain. Heat treatments can also help relax muscles and improve circulation.
Finally, make sure you're getting enough rest. Sleep is important for healing, and if you're in pain, it's even more important to get a good night's sleep. Try to sleep on your side or your stomach, with a pillow under your knees.
It will help take the pressure off your lower back. You can say goodbye to lower back pain for good with a little time and effort.
2. Is it better to sit or lay down with lower back pain?
In general, or when you have a disc herniation, it is always better to lie down instead of staying in the sitting position. Dr. Atlas stated that some studies have measured the amount of pressure on discs."
He explains that lying down provides the least amount of pressure on discs. However, sitting has more pressure than standing. In fact, if he sees a patient standing in the exam room instead of sitting, his suspicion of a disc herniation is heightened.
In arthritis, however, sitting down helps the pain in older women. For any kind of lower back pain, your aim should be to lie down so that the bone structure is free from pressure.
BUT the goal must be to get back on your feet as soon as possible. As soon as you realize the pain sensation, try lying down. If it hits while you are already in bed, you may want to stand up straight and walk a little.
This is general advice; always get yourself evaluated if your back pain persists over a week. If you decide to do some exercise for relief, you must ask your physical therapist or general physician first because, in some cases, exercise is damaging.
3. Is walking good for lower back pain?
One of the best things we can do for chronic lower back pain is to walk; straightforward but highly effective too. You should walk to relieve your lower back pain because it helps loosen up the muscles and relieve the tension, which results in pain relief. Your physical therapist will advise you to walk at least twice a day.
However, do not walk too much. No strenuous activity; ten to fifteen minutes of walking daily will help ease lower back pain. Substitute this activity for a more vigorous exercise if you prefer and/or are able.
4. What is the best position to sleep if you have back pain?
The best sleep position: On your back
The best position to relieve back pain is lying flat on your back. You may find it hard, but this is your ticket to normal life again. It helps dissipate pressure on your discs, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and get you back on your feet sooner. Many people find it the hardest way to enjoy sleep.
For optimal spine alignment, put a flatter pillow under your head or neck and your knees.
5. How do you know if back pain is muscle or disc?
Lower back pain is complicated; it can happen for many different reasons, and treatment will differ with the type. It could be muscular, disc-related, or arthritis and osteoporosis.
If it's muscular, it will feel a lot like sore muscles; the kind of pain that you get after a workout. Fatigued and sore.
With disc issues, it's extremely debilitating. It can be too much to bear and would restrict movement. You'll feel worse sitting down with disc-related pain in the lower back. Standing straight and lying straight are helpful.
Furthermore, the feeling of pain will differ between the two. Muscle pain will feel like post-workout soreness, while disc pain will feel debilitating and tingly. It is helpful to know the difference before you see your doctor so you can accurately describe the pain to them.
6. How do I know if my back pain is serious?
When should I see a doctor if I have lower back pain?
- If the pain stays for four weeks or even longer.
- If it keeps getting worse with time.
- If resting doesn't help.
- If you are experiencing other symptoms, such as fever, extreme weakness, major weight loss/weight gain, immobility, and bladder issues.
7. What does a slipped disc feel like in the lower back?
If you have a herniated lumbar disc, the pain will radiate from the low back area, down one or both legs, into your feet at times (if it's turning into sciatica).
The pain is intense and debilitating. Won't let you put one foot in front of the other. It will feel like a severe electric shock going through your back and legs. Sometimes, it hurts to move even your finger when your discs are herniated.
If you're dealing with lower back pain, you're not alone. There are many things you can do to help ease your pain, and one of the most effective is to strengthen your back muscles with exercises for lower back. Regular exercise can help increase muscle strength and flexibility, which can, in return, help prevent or reduce pain.
In addition to exercise, hot and cold treatments can also be helpful. Applying ice or heat to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and pain.
Finally, be sure to stretch regularly and get enough sleep. Stretching helps loosen tight muscles, and getting enough rest can help your body recover from exercise and everyday activity. If your pain persists, see a physical therapist for additional guidance.
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